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Friday, November 29, 2013


It happens to approximately 12 million U.S. women each year.

About one in eight women can expect to get it.

It occurs most frequently in women ages 25-44.

The “it” I am referring to is depression. Contrary to popular belief—depression is not a “normal part of being a woman,” nor is it a “female weakness.”

Much the same can be said about anxiety. It is true that all of us experience normal anxiety. However, when intense, constant fear invades someone’s life, it is anything but normal. The Anxiety Disorders Association of America reports that “women are twice as likely as men to suffer from anxiety.”

So why do women bear the brunt of these and other emotional issues? Consider these facts:

  • Multiple sources estimate that 250,000+ American women suffer abuse each year
  • 22 million women in the U.S. have been raped in their lifetime. (National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey 2010)
  • Women are 29% more likely to be poor (National Council for Research on Women)

The effects of violence, sexual abuse, poverty and other trauma suffered predominantly by women lead to: depression, anxiety disorders, phobias, substance abuse, sleep disturbances, eating disorders and other serious health concerns. Women come to Samaritan for help due to the psychological and emotional damage caused by these devastating conditions and more. According to Samaritan’s Clinical Director…“Women are still doing too much. They’re taking care of everyone but themselves, which leaves them depleted and exhausted. Additionally, many women are carrying around unresolved traumas from their past, afraid to ‘voice the wounds.’”

Hopefully, you are reading this blog because you are interested in learning more about mental and emotional health issues, counseling, or both. If you are a woman who is hurting inside and looking for a place to turn, please do not delay in getting help. Remember, getting help is a sign of courage, not weakness.

Take the first step toward defeating your fear: see a counselor and "voice your wounds."

Related topic: How you can help a hurting woman get the help she needs by becoming a Silent Samaritan.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Mental Health Awareness

MONDAY - Besides being "tax day," April 15th means there's only a couple more weeks till National Mental Health Awareness Month. I haven't researched yet on what types of events we can expect, or how much the media will help to promote awareness, but I plan to do my part. Working at Samaritan Counseling Center, I am excited when the calls for help keep on coming. Let me explain what I mean by that. I'm excited that people out there who are suffering from marital problems, anxiety, griefcounseling session and many other crises have made an intelligent, vital decision. The decision to seek help and healing...the decision to change their lives. They realize that trying to hide, ignore or deny what they're experiencing is the worst thing they can do. They don't care about a ridiculous stigma--they care about being healthy. Even during my lifetime, society has progressed pretty far from a time when the words "counselor" and "therapist" were rarely mentioned, and if they were, it was in a whisper. If you were suffering, you most likely did so in silence rather than risk contempt and shame. Thanks to education, we've come a long way, but unfortunately, we've still got a long way to go. The actress Glenn Close is an outspoken advocate of mental health reform. Read one of her blogs...


Even counselors go to counselors--just like doctors go to other doctors.

I like to dream big, so here is my vision on mental health: I see a time when people are picking up all sorts of available resources on mental/emotional well-being at magazine stands and grocery stores...a time when people are just as serious about staying mentally healthy as they are about maintaining a healthy weight, or going to the gym...a time when sufferers of serious mental disorders don't continue to fall through the cracks in our healthcare system...a time when all engaged couples take pre-marital counseling as seriously as they take all of their other wedding planning...

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Survivors of Suicide

Personally, I know two people who have taken their own lives: one was a family member, an elderly man I knew for most of my life. Was I shocked? Well, the answer to that question is "yes"--and "no." Let me explain. First, I think suicide is always shocking. It seems that when asked, survivors often say they had no idea the person who committed suicide was depressed or gave any indication he/she was intending to carry out such an act. old man

I don't find that hard to believe. A person can become quite adept at hiding depression. One of the characteristics of depression is the perpetual rumination of hopelessness and pain. It's all going on in the mind--in a deep, dark place that is all too real and frightening. Like silent screaming.

In the instance of the man in my family, I observed that he lived an unusual life that was unhealthy mentally and socially. He was an intelligent and creative person. Hardworking and gifted. But those qualities couldn't rescue him from his torment.

Could someone have prevented this? This much I can tell you: for years, many family members recognized his troubled life, his abnormal behavior and advised him to make changes! But he never listened and never sought help. Plus, he had never told anyone that he was depressed or wanted to die.

Beyond shock and grief, survivors of suicide may experience guilt feelings. They may ask themselves: What did I miss? What could I have done? What kind of awful, deep despair did this person suffer?

If you or someone you know is a survivor of suicide and is struggling and hurting, please know that there is help. Register for Samaritan's Survivors of Suicide Support Group. The environment of our group is safe and supportive. You will meet other people who can empathize with you, who understand your pain. Hope, healing and peace await...

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Open House

If you would like to meet a licensed, professional counselor and ask him/her any questions you might have about whole health and wellness or counseling in general, please stop by Samaritan's Open House Reception on May 20th at our 1106 Ohio R. Blvd. office suite at the Osborne Plaza in Sewickley. We'll be there from 3-7 p.m. to talk, tour our offices, enjoy some wine and hors d'oeuvres and even offer you an opportunity to participate in some hands-on stress reduction techniques. In addition to meeting a few of our counselors, you will be able to chat with our new Life Coach. We promise you'll have a good time--we don't bite! Furthermore, you'll walk away with a better understanding of what counseling is and how beneficial it can be for anyone at any age.

BTW, I came across another interesting website today. It's called "Healthy Place" and I discovered a lot of good information there. Check it out...


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Art is for Everyone

I did a little online research on Art Therapy the other day and learned some remarkable things. But before I get into that, I want to share with you that to be an art therapist, one must complete a Masters level education in addition to the required art courses, training and experience.

Art Therapy is one of the numerous therapeutic techniques we employ at Samaritan. I even had the opportunity to experience it. I found it both interesting and effective in helping me learn more about myself.art clip

I can affirm, as a trained artist who engages in diverse art forms, that during the creative process I experience a deep, focused sense of well-being. It’s almost “trancelike.” To be clear, I’m not even talking about art as a therapeutic tool during counseling, but my own personal experience as an artist. The more engrossed I become in my work, the greater my sense of satisfaction. I grow excited—even intrigued by “what’s coming out of me.” Anyway, if someone were to tell me that the creative process releases a flood of endorphins, I would be the first to agree!

Now for the research…The amazing healing effects of art have been recognized for more than a century—and you need not be an artist to benefit from it. The act of being creative helps us release deeply felt emotions, which aids in healing and reducing stress. Today, many medical centers incorporate it into their inpatient care. In addition to its usefulness in medical settings, art therapy can be a valuable tool in schools, drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs, prisons and more.

In fact, the U.S. Department of Defense reported that art therapy has been used to successfully treat members of the military suffering from brain injuries and psychological health problems such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Clinical case studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of art therapy in treating a wide range of issues, including autism, coping with cancer and bone marrow transplants, eating disorders, addictions and mood disorders—to name a few. It has also proven beneficial in helping traumatized kids recover from the effects of sexual abuse, emotional impairment and burn injuries. Furthermore, art therapy is also used to enhance the quality of life for the elderly. To learn more, I encourage you to visit the websites below. And do go out and buy yourself a box of those 64 wonderful crayons! Ah, the memories…

References: The American Cancer Society, www.cancer.org; The American Art Therapy Association, www.arttherapy.org.; The U.S. Department of Defense www.defense.gov, March 2012.